This Mexican clinic is offering discreet abortions to Americans just over the border

by | Aug 31, 2022 | Top Stories

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Luisa García is the director of Profem Tijuana, a Mexican clinic that offers abortions and is near the border with the United States. In July, Americans made up an estimated 50% of patients seeking abortions there.

Toya Sarno Jordan for NPR

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Toya Sarno Jordan for NPR

TIJUANA, Mexico — In the months since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Luisa García has noticed a sharp and striking trend: More Americans are seeking her clinic’s services in Tijuana, Mexico. García is the director of Profem Tijuana, where people can get abortions just a few steps across the San Ysidro border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana. In May, Americans made up 25% of patients receiving abortions there. By July, it was 50%. These are just estimates, since Profem doesn’t require patients to provide proof of residency. Yet while official figures aren’t kept on Americans crossing the border for abortions, it fits a pattern of anecdotal evidence that more people are turning to Mexico for services since the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion in May showed the court would overturn Roe. “They don’t tell us the truth because they think that we are going to deny them service once they tell us that they’re from the U.S.,” García says of the American patients. “We see people that only speak English, with blue eyes and blond hair — in other words, there’s no way to deny they come from elsewhere.”

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Anyone, regardless of nationality, can get an abortion at the Profem clinic in Tijuana, says Luisa García, the clinic’s director.

Toya Sarno Jordan for NPR

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A doctor reviews a patient’s medical form at the PROFEM clinic in Tijuana.

Toya Sarno Jordan for NPR

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Toya Sarno Jordan for NPR

Anyone, regardless of nationality, can get an abortion at Profem, García says. The clinic is now looking to expand, moving from offering medication abortions in Tijuana to soon providing the surgical procedure there too. And Profem is scouting for a new clinic.

García believes Tijuana has become a destination due to cost, privacy and convenience. At Profem, abortion services range from around $200 to $400 and are provided up to 12 weeks’ gestation. Abortions in the U.S. at these stages typically cost between $600 and $1,000 without insurance, according to the Texas Equal Access Fund. Though getting an abortion in Tijuana can be cheaper, other factors can make the trip more difficult. García recalls one American patient who struggled with the entire process — finding child care, the language barrier, withdrawing Mexican pesos — more than the actual medical procedure. “At our clinic, we try to make the process as humane as possible in terms of not labeling, asking or questioning,” García says. “The decision is difficult enough.”

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An operating room at a Profem clinic.

Toya Sarno Jordan for NPR

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Toya Sarno Jordan for NPR

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Medical supplies stored at the Prof …

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